Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts

Sunday, July 07, 2024

the news... and nourishment

Heartbreaking news about Alice Munro... and tragically one reminiscent of the world she evoked in her fiction where children are betrayed and damaged by adults (plural!) who were supposed to care for and protect them. I hope Andrea Robin Skinner finds peace and experiences continued healing.


Unfathomably soul-crushing news from The Lancet (medical journal of record) warning that conservatively, "the true death toll in the Gaza genocide could be 186,000 or more." And that this "staggering figure amounts to 8 percent of the population of Gaza. A similar percentage of the US population would be 26 million people." I'm coping through a cocktail of hope (there has been an increase in public support for Gaza including from the French left--the surprise election winners), drugs (including OTC Ashwagandha), busy-ness (deadline after deadline), and the loving support of family and friends.

Pic: Some of my farmers' market haul from this weekend. I used the summer abundance for dinner today--ratatouille, which I served with focaccia (also from the market) and tzatziki. Our meal was already solidly Mediterranean, repping French, Italian, and Greek foods, so I cut up some Valencia oranges to add Spain to our dinner mix.

Saturday, July 06, 2024

in which my mom schools me on how to use my phone

Sometimes when Nu and I are comfort-watching a show from the '90s (Friends or Dawson's Creek or Felicity--ok, the last two are mostly me), I'm amazed at how all those characters are just walking around without cellphones hoping to bump into their pals randomly and with no way to check in on people if they're late to a rendezvous. I say "they," but I did that too back then, obviously. Sometimes it seems like another lifetime! I wonder if Nu can really even imagine how it used to be. 

And I'm not even a person who uses their phone that much. I was reminded of that today when my mom made a request. She wanted me to record myself singing a handful of Thyagaraja kritis because she said she wanted to hear them right now. (It was so sweet. "I can't wait until June to hear you sing them to me again," she said.) When I told her I didn't know how to record, she gave me such specific directions starting with: "look for the "mic" symbol..." Seriously, I was so impressed. She said that she'd previously taught her aunts to make recordings when they found it difficult to type. Nu, who is of the digital-native generation, is my usual go-to person when I need to figure out something on my phone... but now I can ask my mom too.

Pic: Huck and Max keeping me company; I was putting dinner together while I practiced "Marukela Ra," one of the songs my mom had requested. This version I found is by the superb Maharajapuram Santhanam (incidentally, the grandfather of one of my school friends who's recently become a wonderful advocate and carer for the many street dogs in Chennai).

Friday, July 05, 2024

naming our vineyard

Another quiet day here today. All I had in my pictures folder was this reminder that we have volunteer grapevines (with tight clusters of unripe grapes) in the driveway. It reminded me of Nicole living on a vineyard and I amused myself by wondering what we might name our "vineyard". (Because, as I don't know much about wine, clever names and fun labels are the most important part of the wine business for me.) 

I think it would have to be something with "Doggie" in it. I mean, that was the main contender when we changed our family name 17 years ago... Doggie Tales? Domaine d' Doggie? Woof Woof Winery?

(As it turned out, when we finally changed our name, we knit together one of my family names and part of Big A's. I love that he changed his name as well, and always think about how he had to petition the courts and pay a fee to do that--our current patriarchal system is not set up for men to change their names when they get married.)

Pic: One of our volunteer grapevines. I don't know how the vineyards further north do it, because our grapes aren't at all ripe by the time Fall rolls around...

Wednesday, July 03, 2024

reading signs

if thoughts are flocks
would they be
of birds 
or sheep

when simplicity opens 
will I find it
an entrance
or interruption
Pic: A giant dragonfly perches on a lilypad. (At the two-o-clock mark.)

Monday, July 01, 2024

what I heard

1) "When you do coke it's not supposed to make you black out, right?" Person I'd stopped to check on in the bus shelter. They were crying and I couldn't walk past them without asking if they were ok. I didn't know the answer to their question, but I tried to see if they wanted to go to the hospital. They didn't. Ultimately, I did just walk away.

2) "Those deer out there are like good friends. They just hang out in my yard all day." Person with a huge Trump flag in their yard when I marveled at the 25 or so deer just sitting in their yard. I'd pulled up warily to ask for directions and was a bit taken aback. I don't know if I thought a Trump supporter would just randomly be shooting deer in their backyard or what.

3) *zombie noises* This was Nu after dinner. Max seemed to think it was the fun-est thing in the world and followed them around with heart-emoji eyes.

4) "Mr. Melancholy and his 'lunages'." A line from I Saw the TV Glow, which Nu was watching while I worked. Nu and At had already seen it together when Big A and I were in Arizona and liked it a lot. Turns out the line was "Mr. Melancholy and his luna juice." Umm. Yeah. Either way, I didn't get it. I think it's one of those things where you have to pay attention.

Pic: We've been going to Pride parades for years at this point, but I think I started giving the kids Pride presents only during the pandemic. Here, Nu and At are trying to figure out the prisms they got this year; Max thinks At, who'd stopped by for dinner after a shift at Chipotle, smells delicious. 

Saturday, June 29, 2024

holding on to love

Spent all day with TJA, who's visiting for the weekend. And it was like having the perfect visit (beer garden, walks, talks, puppy times, thrifting, falafel stand, book store, massages, Thai food).

We were young mamas together, and now our youngest ones are nearly grown, and our sisterhood has held. My only worry before TJA arrived was about holding my tongue about Dave Chappelle to whom she's very close and about whom I have opinions. But even that came up at dinner and we both said our earnest pieces and then we just held each other tight for a long time.

I'm afraid I've neglected my little family though. Nu had plans with a friend, so they were ok. But when I texted Big asking when he'd be ready for dinner, he texted back "Two hours ago" with a tongue-out emoji. (There were leftovers from Friday's dinner and he's a grown-up in a house with a stocked pantry and freezer so no real harm done though.)

Pic: TJA and me in the tea garden; pic by Nu.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

an unexpected red carpet

We took a 40% pay cut when Big A moved his job back to Michigan (I always count it as worth it!), so we've been discussing selling the house to downsize. (It does make me sad, but also... there are way worse fates in the world, and our dilemma pales in comparison.)

We've been holding off as Nu is headed for their last year of high school, and it would be too disruptive to move to a different school district at this point. 

It's worth noting that when we moved to this house, there were six humans (both kids were home and my parents lived with us for six months of the year). This house would be way too big for just A and me. On the other hand, we love this house and its happy memories so much and would be happy to stay here until the kids move us to a retirement home. We'll have to see how things shake out. 

Speaking of retirement homes, Nu told us with a straight face at dinner that when the time came, they'd be putting us in different homes because "you two together are too much." Both Big A and I pleaded and offered all kinds of silly bribes, but no--it will have to be different homes. I mean... I know it was meant to be funny, but it made me really sad to imagine living out my final days without A. And I was already in a bad place because of a sad book (Catherine Newman's We All Want Impossible Things).

Pic: Our walk through South Campus was disrupted due to construction. The construction crew has kindly put down a reddish tarp to indicate the detour, and it looks for all the world like an unexpected red-carpet experience.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

up and down and all around

The writing group didn't meet today... but good news about two conference acceptances. I'll chair the panel on narrative medicine; and I'm really excited about the panel I organized, titled, "If You Build It, They Will Come: Critical Feminist Practices for Campuses, Communities, and Campus-Community Partnerships."

I think we've finally finished edging the pond... but there have been some work-related woes, so we may be putting the house up for sale if things don't turn around. I'm determined to enjoy it while we're here!

I loved Sandwich so much, that I downloaded We All Want Impossible Things right away... and it's just so sad, I don't know that I can go on.

A long walk with Big A with the weather app predicting no rain as we set off... and then after we got to the halfway point, it began to rain. Oh, well, I'm not actually made of sugar.

Pic: A family of geese out on an outing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

a handful of summer things

It feels like I just got home from a fun family beach vacation on Cape Cod because I just finished Catherine Newman's Sandwich. I'd picked it up on Nicole's recommendation. Actually, the whole novel felt like it was being narrated by Nicole with that characteristic sense of warmth, humor, personal history, and integrity. I snorted and chuckled and laughed out loud so much while reading this on the cloud reader, that everyone knew I wasn't working on my laptop. Also: Was there a character called Maya? (Yes, there was.) Was she the same age, and at the same stage in her PhD, as when I used to go up to Truro for a week every summer as a guest of a dear friend's family? (Yes, she was.) 

And inspired by something Jenny did a couple of weeks back, I treated myself to a trip to the bookstore. I browsed and browsed but didn't buy anything although I still have my birthday bookstore money to spend.

Also: I got a massage after months off.  Wonderful R, who used to make house calls, has moved away. I had bought myself some massage gift certs around the holidays, but the person was flaky about scheduling and then sent a group text that they couldn't honor the certs because they had been diagnosed with cancer. (They're being sued by a bunch of people who say they have proof this is a ploy. But I keep thinking what if they really do have cancer--how shitty would that be to have to fight these BBB claims while also fighting cancer and being impoverished by having to pay for treatments under our horrible healthcare system?) Anyway, I'd already spent half a year's budget on massages, so I had to wait until now. I got an acupressure session today, and it feels hurts so good right now.

Pic: Eating my colors. This is the poké bowl I made for Big A's Boss Day: Miso rice, shaved sprouts, grated carrots, chopped cucumber, avocado, cherry tomatoes, mango, and tiny peppers + broiled salmon/tofu. I was going to add arugula before plating, but I forgot.

Monday, June 24, 2024

...the little children

our world wanes thin 
this hard-won hope 
afire and at once
               sky bright - tear dark
                flowering - hungry
                  prayers - profanity
its ruined road looks
back, asks us a riddle
shadowed answers 
                  seem to see a child
                 say just some child
                  it is the same child 

Note: I was going for "suffer the little children" for the title with its biblical sense of "allow" but also to evoke the idea of suffering.
I think some of the early images came from a dream in which someone I admired told me something was "not strong, but it is right." I was very impressed by this insight in the dream and on waking up. But I agree with Big A that it doesn't really seem to make sense or hold up.
Pic: The first ripened tomato from the veggie plot. May there be many more (if the deer, squirrels, birds, chipmunks, slugs, bugs, groundhogs, and bunnies grant).

Sunday, June 23, 2024

summer slide

I guess I have my own version of summer learning loss a.k.a. summer slide. I'm not losing knowledge over summer, I keep forgetting things that worked for me last summer. I'm having to relearn. I have to remember that I have a folder of no-cook dinner ideas. I have to remember that turning the shower to "cool" for a few beats at the end will keep me from sweating when I get out. I was doing these things by rote by the end of summer last year, but haven't yet fallen back into those habits this year.

Yesterday, when I was horrified by a movie plot twist At and Nu shared with me, I was informed that I had reacted the same way when they'd told me before. "Sorry to retraumatize you, I thought you already knew" At said. Every time I remembered that bit of the conversation today, it made me laugh.

Also: I was so relieved to get back into reading today. I was stalled on a book for over a week in a terrible self-perpetuating cycle--I wasn't enjoying it, so I wasn't making time to finish it, and I couldn't start another book while that one was unfinished (plus I had that deadline, so I didn't have much free time). I finally finished it yesterday and got to read a whole book today. (Rachel Hawkins's The Villa. I particularly enjoyed the allusion/shoutout to Mary Godwin Shelley writing Frankenstein at the Villa Diodati.) It was a relief to know it wasn't me or the genre--that other book was just bad.

Pic: Big A, Huck, and Max. They're all leaping in the air because of their proximity to the treat jar :).

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

just press send already

I should just press send, but I'm finding so many excuses to hang on to my manuscript. 

One main reason being I can still find things to tweak and improve and cite and... and... and... every time I  open up a random page. How do professional writers do it?! (StephLove?)

It's 3:30 am, one more run-through, and then I really will send it. I swear. I didn't even go to the Juneteenth thing I was supposed to go to...

The series editor to whom this will go is in New Zealand, so I'll still technically be compliant with the deadline.

Pic: Max and I found scads of tadpoles in the pond this morning. I'm excited for our future frog chorus.

Monday, June 17, 2024

the time I need

My deadline was this past Sunday. I got an extension until Wednesday, because I wanted to spend a few more days fine-tuning things. When I asked for the extension, the editor good-naturedly said I should "take the time I need." I think about how they (could have but) did not say I should take "all the time I need." I'm using it as a kind of rubric--does the tweak I envision fit in the "time I need?" If it doesn't, I'm making a note and passing on it/passing it on. 

I lugged my laptop to the sports bar where Big A was watching the Dallas-Boston NBA game tonight. While there, he tried quite valiantly to tell me all the "subplots" and rivalries beyond the score. His description of someone looking like a cream cheese was very apt--I recognized them as soon as they showed up on screen. Anyway, the Celtics won, everyone was happy, and we're home.

(That's two sports-themed events in the space of a week... who am I these days?!)

Pic: Big A in this year's Father's Day tee. It's Star-Wars themed and has all the kids' names on it. Huck and Max just got a treat from the treat jar. 

Friday, June 14, 2024

reading between the flowers

I think teenager Cass makes a terrific point in The Bee Sting when she is irritated with the ubiquitous nature themes in poetry: “You go to class and discuss famous poems. The poems are full of swans, gorse, blackberries, leopards, elderflowers, mountains, orchards, moonlight, wolves, nightingales, cherry blossoms, bog oak, lily-pads, honeybees. Even the brand-new ones are jam-packed with nature. It’s like the poets are not living in the same world as you. You put up your hand and say isn’t it weird that poets just keep going around noticing nature and not ever noticing that nature is shrinking? To read these poems you would think the world was as full of nature as it ever was even though in the last forty years so many animals and habitats have been wiped out. How come they don’t notice that? How come they don’t notice everything that’s been annihilated? If they’re so into noticing things? I look around and all I see is the world being ruined. If poems were true they’d just be about walking through a giant graveyard or a garbage dump. The only place you find nature is in poems, it’s total bullshit." 

And I think of the message Mohamed Hussein in Gaza put out this morning: "This flower has bloomed next to my tent as if to tell me not to lose hope, that tomorrow the war will end, and everything will become beautiful. Life will surely blossom again."

And I think that's why. That's the answer to Cass. Hope enters our lives and stays as long there is a single bloom.

Pic: These flowers have bloomed next to our house as if to tell me...

Thursday, June 13, 2024

people to be joyous about:

* a colleague on a committee who took a gentle, but necessary, suggestion like a champ and acted on it. No pique, no passive-aggressive resentment, no defensiveness. Just beautiful.

* a kid who asked for something non-phone related on our "Buy Nothing" group... not just for themselves but for their two siblings as well.

* three students who want to do summer projects. I may bristle about committee work over the summer since we have no summer salary, but I love, love, love working with students. It all seems so pure: my students aren't doing it for the grades, I'm not doing it for pay.

* all the friends at the sleepovers Nu has been having. I'm glad to be that mom with the locked liquor cabinet and pallets of (Costco) snacks if it means I can hear Nu and their friends, two rooms over, laughing into the wee hours. 

*Pic: Nu. Who doesn't always look like this :) (and with whom I have the most amazing two-hour long discussions about Plath, Whitman, and life). Happy June 13th, I guess. I gave the teenagers something to laugh about when I walked in to say goodnight and visibly jumped at the sight of Nu's made up face.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

kindness-torture and polite-fights

I was walking back home to dinner (which I wasn't making BTW, it was Nu's Boss Day and we were getting Pokè) when I started getting inundated with texts asking where I was, if I was ok, did I need a ride back, etc. etc. So many texts! Ooof. I wasn't late to dinner or asking for help. Tamils would call this anbu thollai--kindness-torture. (Vaguely related to that other oxymoronic term the East Asian polite-fight.) I probably do this too... but sometimes you just... gotta let people be. (Or perhaps I'd miss it if it went away? IDK!)

Pic: Max and Huck (the fuzzy brown blur by the back door) exploring the yard after Big A completed the first mow of the year (there'll be another one around the start of fall). The plantings around the pond are beginning to come in nicely, but not fast enough for me. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

an early start

I don't want to die
I want to keep on

wide as a song
wide as a wound

someday I'll learn
to tell the difference

my quiet body
my silenced body

know the future meant 
to be for me--I'll get 
there yet
Note: I'm not sick, just thinking about death because of last week's losses.
Pic: The deer are out there eating all my flowers, so I planted some annuals in these birdbaths, tugged some moss over the shallow roots like a blankie, clipped some craft birds onto the chains, and hung these constructions up in the tea garden to enjoy.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

contentment, panic, alarm, and a chuckle

Nu headed off to a friend's graduation open house, Big A took off for the Cow Pie Classic (what a weird concatenation of words), and my girlfriends' hang got postponed due to rain. So I contentedly puttered around the house, watered the zillion plants, and cleaned everything.

Then I wandered into a discussion about the rising cases of bird flu and how a bird flu pandemic could make Covid look like "a walk in the park." It made me panic a bit, so I took myself off for a long walk. I think I will order some masks and stockpile some beans and bleach though. Just in case. 

Alarmingly, Noam Chomsky's health is reportedly in sharp decline. Also, the U.S. disguised its participating troops as a humanitarian aid convoy (a war crime) instead of actually pursuing meaningful diplomacy for hostages. Why do we favor this kind of military charlatanism over rapprochement? 

Pic: Our flipsy-flopsy Maxie. This puppy makes me chuckle. He's snuggled into my side, his head and front legs are completely hanging off the sofa, his back legs and paws are torpedoed into our long-suffering Huck. And somehow he's fast asleep in this weird position. 

Friday, June 07, 2024

a longer table

At some point in the early Trump presidency years, I came across the saying: "build a longer table, not a higher wall." It really spoke to me, and I took it to heart. 

An intergenerational mix of loved ones to dinner tonight and we found plenty to celebrate and laugh about. 

(And the prep conveniently kept me too busy to brood. Yes, I know I have a deadline coming up, but I really needed this.)

Pic: We scooted a card table to our regular table and scrounged chairs from other rooms to accommodate all of us. Max and Huck are by my feet.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

scenes from a marriage

Big A and I have one major road to cross before we get on the riverwalk. Today, while the pedestrian lights are flashing, the first lane of traffic comes to a complete stop and the second lane is slowing down, so I get in the crosswalk...

But the car in the second lane keeps coming and I sort of freeze in the crosswalk. A pushes me aside as the car screeches to a halt and then he's in the driver's face yelling...

But the driver...

They're looking at me, or actually my legs, and it's so ridiculous I start laughing, and as he joins me, A is laughing too.

I'm glad we had that moment of adrenalin-fueled levity (and also that I didn't die or get dismembered), because we just heard that someone we used to be close to died unexpectedly. A really lovely person, MM was an OB-GYN who found homes for many unwanted and/or orphaned babies. (I used to fake berate Big A for not bringing home "work" babies like our friend MM did.) Anyway, suddenly they're dead and we're headed to their visitation tomorrow and looking into planting some trees as a memorial. I will miss MM, and also MM's kids are the same age as At... surely, it's too soon for it to be our generation's turn? (I know the answer is it's never too soon.)

Pic: The unidentified vine that's growing up the side of the house across the cladding. I think it's so pretty, but I know A is going to want to chop it down.

strange new world

Weird how a day can begin like every other and then end up as something unknown. A is sick and in the hospital. It feels like being in a par...